THE flickering embers of Arsenal’s Premier League title dream were all but extinguished as they suffered a 3-0 home drubbing by Europe-chasing Brighton and Hove Albion yesterday.
Earlier, Ilkay Gundogan scored two brilliant goals and teed up Erling Haaland for another to inspire Manchester City to a 3-0 win at Everton as they moved four points clear of Arsenal atop the table with an 11th consecutive victory.
With three games remaining, Pep Guardiola’s treble-chasing side have 85 points and have a match in hand on Arsenal.
Arsenal have 81 points from 36 games.
Everton remained deep in trouble, just above the relegation zone in 17th place with 32 points.
Guardiola crossed the Goodison Park pitch to the raucous City fans and held up two fingers to denote the number of wins he thought his side would need to clinch the title.
Gundogan netted in the 37th minute when he brought down Riyad Mahrez’s cross in a crowd of Everton defenders and with his back to goal flicked a blind shot past keeper Jordan Pickford. Haaland headed in Gundogan’s cross two minutes later to extend his single-season Premier League scoring record to 36 goals.
Gundogan extended City’s lead soon after halftime with a curling free kick that sailed over Everton’s wall into the net.
City, who had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Everton at the Etihad Stadium this season, have won seven in a row at Goodison Park.
The champions created several scoring chances in the first half including two quick corners that failed to produce shots before they were rewarded for their hard work.
Haaland had a late chance for a second goal but sent his spectacular bicycle kick wide.
Guardiola’s team, who are also seeking their first Champions League title and have reached the FA Cup final, have a quick turnaround before they host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
The teams drew 1-1 draw in Madrid last week.
Arsenal produced a laboured display against the crafty south coast club and were outplayed after the break as Julio Enciso, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan scored for Roberto De Zerbi’s side, putting City on the brink of securing the title.
The result also moved Brighton up to sixth place with 58 points with four games still remaining.
Arsenal’s former Brighton forward Leandro Trossard struck the crossbar in the first half, but Arsenal looked deflated after Enciso struck in the 51st minute and crestfallen when Undav lobbed over Aaron Ramsdale in the 86th minute.
Estupinan completed Arsenal’s misery in stoppage time to the delight of Brighton’s fans who may soon be watching the club’s first venture into European competition.
There was a hint of resignation in the air amongst Arsenal’s fans as they streamed towards the Emirates Stadium after hearing of Manchester City’s earlier 3-0 victory at Everton.